Irene Vafiadis, Panagiotis Trilianos, Jiannis Vlachogiannakos, Markisia Karagiorga, Antonia Hatziliami, Ersi Voskaridou, Spiros D. Ladas
Background. HCV infection and transfusional iron overload in Thalassemic patients may result in liver disease. HCV treatment in Thalassemia has raised safety concerns. Aim. Estimate effectiveness and tolerability of interferon-based therapy in HCV-infected Thalassemic patients. Material and methods. Over a 12-year period, consecutive patients with β Thalassemia major (TM) and chronic hepatitis C received treatment. Liver biopsy, HCV-RNA and genotyping were performed beforehand. Sustained virological response (SVR) was defined as negative HCV-RNA 6 months post-treatment. Forty eight patients (26 M-22 F, mean age 39.8) were enrolled. Twenty nine patients were treated with conventional interferon alpha (IFNa) for 48 weeks (group A). Nineteen patients (10 naïve-9 previously IFNa experienced) received pegylated interferon (PEGIFN) (group B). Results. HCV-1 was found in 44%, HCV-2 in 14%, HCV-3 in 23% and HCV-4 in 19%. Group A: ten patients (38.5%) achieved SVR, 2 (7.5%) relapsed and 17 (54%) were non responders. Group B: five (28%) achieved SVR, 8 (44%) relapsed and 6 (28%) never responded. High HCV-RNA levels, genotype 1 and advanced liver fibrosis were independently associated with no response. Four patients (3 treated with IFNα, 1 with PEG-IFN) had to discontinue treatment due to complications. Conclusions. The response rate of IFN monotherapy in multi-transfused, HCV-infected Thalassemic patients is not inferior to that in nonmulti- transfused patients. IFNa administration is well-tolerated and should be recommended as initial treatment schedule in this setting.
Key words. Anemia, HCV infection, Antiviral treatment, Pegylated interferon, Thalassemia